All-American Muslim: Why the social uproar?

Over the years, TLC has developed a knack for highlighting groups in society that many viewers may not know  much about. From hoarders to pageant kids to little people to Gypsies, they focus on the abnormal, the unique, the rare, the quirky and often the most fascinating among us. While most of their programs are met with curiosity and intrigue, one of their most recent has been met only by controversy and closed-mindedness since it first aired in November. All-American Muslim documents five Muslim American families living in Dearborn, Mich., home to the largest mosque in the United States and one of the highest concentrations of Islamic followers. It shadows their everyday lives and some of the struggles they face as a religious minority. It is no secret that since 9/11, tensions have often run high in the United States concerning the Islamic faith, so when the show hit the television screen, it caused backlash not only among some of its viewers, but advertisers as well, including Lowe’s, which pulled its commercials from the program. While the company has every constitutional right not to support the show, and viewers have every right not to watch it, the measure of opposition is looking a lot less like First Amendment freedom and a lot more like religious hatred. Much of it comes from the Florida Family Association, a religious group that aims to “educate people on what they can do to defend, protect and promote traditional, biblical values.” But since when did bigotry become a “traditional biblical value”? The show is not promoting Islam. It is not trying to convert or preach or defend a religious set of beliefs. It is  merely doing the same thing all of the network’s programs do – document people’s everyday lives. In interviews, the founder of FFA David Caton claims that his problem with All-American Muslim is that it does not depict extremists of the faith. Basically, he’s mad because it’s not casting a negative image of a religion that so many Americans have come to fear. But perhaps if people took the time to understand it, they’d be less scared of it. And the fact is, all religions have extremists, but that does not make them the majority. Countless cult leaders and serial killers have used the Bible as a shield to hide their sadistic actions, but I’m sure Mr. Caton would not advocate programming that portrayed Christianity in the same light that he would like TLC to show Islam in. And what is even scarier than the minority of religious nut cases out there, is the fact that so many Americans are so...

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Perry play gives people more than just a laugh

Austin welcomed Tyler Perry with open arms Jan. 17 as he presented his play The Haves and the Have Nots at the Long Center.  Before the show, the audience sat in anticipation expecting a good laugh. After all, Perry is known for his colorful, over-the-top characters and his sometimes iffy story lines. But as the curtains went up and the play started, the audience soon realized that laughter was not the only thing being served. What the audience got was a well performed, heartfelt story filled with honesty, brutal realities, powerful music and, of course, comedy. The play focused on two families — one with wealth and one without. Grandma Haitie is the matriarch of the second family. She has let her daughter Rose, son-in-law Frank and grandson Wallie come and live with her. The opening scene starts with depressing news that their house is currently being foreclosed, and within three days they will be out on the streets. Frank is currently unemployed, and Rose works as a maid. Things start to look up when Rose’s boss, Louis, offers Frank a job to help him get on his feet. The scene is changed to the mansion of newlyweds Louis and Diane. He is a rich businessman, and she is a spoiled gold-digger who manipulates and lies to get what she wants. Rose has been Louis’ maid for six years, but things become complicated when Frank starts working for the wealthy couple. The lady of the house, Diane, starts making advances to her new employee and makes it her personal mission to break up his marriage. Meanwhile, the teenage son of Rose and Frank, Wallie, feels that it is his responsibility to raise the money to save their house from foreclosure.  He starts dealing drugs and finds himself in jail. As the story unfolds, audience’s hearts ache for the characters facing their own personal trials and tribulations. Frank, the husband, is overwhelmed with guilt because he cannot provide for his family. Rose, a wife and mother, who has always put her trust in God, is now faced with news of her husband’s alleged indiscretions and her son’s run-in with the law. Louis, a man rich with money and power, has to come to the harsh reality that money may buy a young, beautiful wife, but it cannot buy happiness. And finally, Diane, the seductive adulteress battles her own demons. Two characters soften the blow of the seriousness of the tough issues addressed. Haitie is the encouraging elder who has much advice to give and many stories to tell, while Floyd is a friend to everyone. He knows all, sees all,...

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Band is aiming for the big time
Jan24

Band is aiming for the big time

A band by the name of Hedley Grange is taking the Central Texas music scene by storm. Both KVET 98.1 out of Austin and The Ranch 95.9 out of Dallas currently play the band’s popular song “Church Signs.” The success for the quintet is quickly rising with appearances all over the state. They will be playing at Bum’s Sports Grill at midnight Jan. 27. The group members consist of lead vocalist and guitarist Kody Yeager, pot and pans player Charlie Lucko, lead guitarist Tyler Ralston, rhythm guitar and harmonica player Will Janke and bass player Will Gilley. The band’s name comes from a recording studio in Headley, England. Yeager, a former UMHB student, said the band simply began when he realized both he and a fellow co-worker had a common taste for music. “The band itself has been around for about a year and a half. I and the guitarist were working together at the same restaurant and in passing we found out that we both like music. We got together and started hanging out, and sure enough we hit it off pretty good,” he said. The band has not always had five members; two more people have joined since last year. “We just added Will Gilley and Charlie Lucko a few months ago. So the band with all five of us is new, and it has been about three months that we have all been together,” Yeager said. Music has been a part of Janke’s life for quite some time. Prior to the band, he played such instruments as the guitar, bass and harmonica. He said, “I have been a part of the band for one year. I was chosen after about a year of playing opening acoustic for them.” Janke also credits his mother and two sisters for introducing him to different genres of music. He is inspired by Bob Dylan, Reckless Kelly and The Band. When people come to attend his performances, he hopes the audience will leave with this message. He said, “If you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life.” For Janke, being in a band and juggling his everyday life may not be easy, but he does not mind since he is doing something he loves. Gilley caught the music bug early in life, and it is his passion. He enjoys all the success the band has acquired lately and looks forward to the future. “Everyone is very supportive thus far. As long as we keep our heads down and work hard, I believe the sky is the limit for Hedley Grange,” he said. “Hedley...

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Second ‘Highways’ rocks Hughes
Nov15

Second ‘Highways’ rocks Hughes

By Terryn Kelly The Schade Tree band, featuring art department Chair Hershall Seals, kicked off the Highways and Byways concert, performing an array of unique songs accompanied by soulful voices and acoustics. This was the second show in the concert series, which took place in Hughes Recital Hall Nov. 12. The concerts allow people from all walks of life to come together and experience different genres of music. Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Ted Barnes said, “What we would like to do is try and bring traditional music to the campus in all kinds of various forms.” There was a small but enthusiastic crowd filled with older faces. Some clapped along to the music while others sang aloud. Barnes said, “The community in general has been a pretty good turnout. We certainly want more student participation. The reaction to the concert series campus wide has not been as big a turnout as we would like. We would like to give back a little more and give something for the students to do.” Barnes added that considering students’ budgets are often tight, the concert would be a fun campus event for them to attend for free and learn about traditional United States music locally. When searching for talent to bring to the school, Director of the Conservatory of Music Jonathan Gary uses different avenues to accomplish the task at hand. He said, “I will do my best to attend different venues especially in the Austin area, and I also do a lot of research online listening to recordings of performers. I get recommendations for other booking agencies, and we try to choose performers that can offer a variety of styles throughout the year.” Darcy Deville is a solo performer and a member of the Austin Lounge Lizards, a well-known group in Texas. She is also a part of Woody Says, which is a musical that tells the story of Woody Gutherie’s life and music. She just returned from touring in England with the Woody Says group, and they are up for a prestigious award in England similar to the Grammy Awards  in America. Deville performed many songs she wrote during the concert, and afterwards she shared which songs were featured on her CD. The crowd was informed of the history of the small guitar she played, whose fingerboard was originally made for Mick Jagger. Another artist appeared onstage alongside Deville named Jane Gillman. The two have worked in the music circuit for  over 15 years. Gillman’s favorite song of the night that she performed was titled “Elsa’s Tune.” She said, “The song was inspired by my...

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Coldplay is back on the pop/rock music scene
Nov15

Coldplay is back on the pop/rock music scene

With Mylo Xyloto reaching the number one spot on the charts in 30 countries, Coldplay has once again proved  they can construct an album people that love. Though its lyrics and melodies are catchy, the album is still typical Coldplay – except with a slight turn toward pop. Band members said they wanted this album to be more acoustic than their previous one. Tracks like “Us Against the World” and “U.F.O.” give off a stripped-down feel as Chris Martin’s voice is accompanied by few instruments. Other songs like “Hurts Like Heaven” and “Charlie Brown” give a fuller sound and could not be considered acoustic by the most liberal standards. Whether the album is acoustic or not, it works. Breaking their own record of highest first-week album sales on iTunes, Coldplay sold more than 500,000 copies upon release. Mylo Xyloto is supposed to tell the story of two lovers living out their relationship in the urban future.  The tracks progress along, carrying the listeners through the narrative of the lovers, Mylo and Xyloto. It’s an album that almost demands a tapping of the foot or a bobbing of the head while listening. Where the album strays most from the band’s classic sound is on the track “Princess of China.” It’s a pop song featuring Rihanna with distinct beats but still maintaining Coldplay’s catchy “Oh” segments thrown in. For those who don’t like Rihanna, though, the song is a bust. The middle of the song is dominated by her singing about fighting in a relationship in typical pop song fashion, leaving listeners wondering why Rihanna is disturbing the flow of the album. When the single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” was released months before the album, it was clear that Coldplay was going to offer another crowd-pleaser. They delivered, perhaps with the song “Paradise” leading the way as a favorite track of the album. Its orchestral backdrop combined with heavy bass and easy-to-follow melodies for the lyrics draws listeners to the story of a young girl dreaming of a perfect place. The music video for the song might confuse fans as it features a person in an elephant costume traveling across England by bicycle and unicycle and ending in an African desert setting playing instruments with other friends dressed the same way. What that has to do with a young girl’s vision of paradise is still unclear. Though the album lacks much variation from what the band has always done, Coldplay fans will be pleased with the new album as their chart-topping ratings are already proving....

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Be in control of your holiday entertainment this Christmas
Nov15

Be in control of your holiday entertainment this Christmas

Hollywood likes to use the Christmas season as a time to pump out a lot of big-name movies back to back. Producers know people love any excuse to get their visiting family members to shut up for an hour and a half. This year we are seeing big budget releases like the Sherlock Holmes sequel, Twilight Saga: Is It Over Yet? and Harold and Kumar Do Drugs and Meet Neil Patrick Harris, just to name a few. Granted, the titles may be off, but the plot is covered well enough. But if you are anything like me, you aren’t really planning to see any of these movies this season because you have no money, no one to see them with and are really lazy. But there is good news. Hollywood offers a metric ton of classic Christmas movies you can marathon during the school break, as long as you don’t mind admitting to yourself you’re a shut-in. One great movie is Scrooged, starring Bill Murray. Released in 1988, the film is a meant to be a modern, comedic retelling of the classic story A Christmas Carol. Murray plays Frank Cross, a TV executive who is a real Scrooge (ba dum, tiss!) to his family and employees. Through a series of wacky mishaps, the determination of three spirits and one very awkward scene with a frozen homeless guy, Murray learns the true meaning of-oh geez-I can’t even finish that sentence. Regardless, it’s a fun movie. A personal favorite of mine is The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack Skellington, a literal skeleton and king of Halloweentown,  becomes bored with the repetition of scaring children. Upon finding a magical portal to Christmastown, Jack tries his best to celebrate the season in his own unique way. Once you get past the Danny Elfman of it all, it’s highly entertaining. Plus, it’s a singing skeleton. A third choice would be the Chevy Chase classic Christmas Vacation. This film tells the tried-and-true tale of how letting more than one side of the family into your house at the same time will always end in a highly volatile standoff with the police. The good news is, the movie has Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid. The bad news is, it has everyone else, too. But, honestly, Randy Quaid should be enough to make anyone watch this movie. And finally, there is It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s not a comedy like the other three, but it is an absolute must-see despite that fatal flaw. Released in 1946, the movie stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a terminally depressed individual with a heart of gold. When George is on the...

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